What Qualifies a Child for the Gifted and Talented Program?

Published On: Monday, January 15, 2024|Categories: Customized Curriculum, Parents, Tenney Subscribers|

While most parents believe their child is gifted at something, most people don’t know if or how their child can be accepted into a Gifted and Talented (GT) program. Federal criteria for GT programs is somewhat fuzzy, making the issue even more confusing. Let’s take a closer look at the Gifted and Talented program and how to become better educated on what it is and how children get in it.


Definition of Gifted

The current official definition of “gifted” is found in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is,

Students with gifts and talents perform—or have the capability to perform—at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains. They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential. Student with gifts and talents:

Come from all racial, ethnic, and cultural populations, as well as all economic strata.

Require sufficient access to appropriate learning opportunities to realize their potential.

Can have learning and processing disorders that require specialized intervention and accommodation.

Need support and guidance to develop socially and emotionally as well as in their areas of talent.

In layman’s terms, this means a gifted child has abilities quite a bit above the norm. However, identifying gifted children can be extremely difficult because they are all different. Gifted children come from all demographic groups, have different personalities, learn differently from each other, can have a learning disability or not, and have different strengths and limitations.

How To Know if Your Child Is Considered Gifted

The criteria for testing a child for giftedness is determined at the state and local level. Because federal law mandates that schools offer special programs for gifted students, school districts use a process to screen students to decide who gets in the program. While there is no one correct way to decide who is more gifted than usual, most screening processes begin with referrals by parents and teachers. They will often use an IQ test to measure some of the skills used in school classrooms. If a child scores very well (unusually well), then that child may be an unusual learner who needs something other than what is offered in the normal classroom. Other parts of the screening process include surveys and aptitude tests.

After the testing process is over, the parents will usually receive notification of acceptance (or non-acceptance) in the spring. The child can then be part of the GT program at the beginning of the next school year, and they will remain eligible to be in the program, even if the child changes schools.

What is So Special About the Gifted and Talented Program?

As already mentioned, the GT program offers a different type of learning than what is offered in a traditional classroom. Students allowed into the GT program learn from excellent teachers who are qualified to teach gifted students. The students are put into a peer group that is at their advanced academic level. The students will have access to more resources than they would have in the average classroom. The program helps gifted students reach for and achieve their personal best work. Plus, being in the program is a boon to the student’s self-image. It’s usually considered a great privilege to be in the GT program.

What Can Be Expected in a Gifted and Talented Program?

This is a tricky question because there are no firm guidelines in place concerning how the GT program works. This is because gifted students are so different and the resources available to different school districts also differ. Therefore, GT programs around the country will offer different services. Some programs keep children in a regular classroom but offer special accommodations. Some gifted children will go to a special classroom part of the day and the regular classroom for the rest of the day. Other programs will offer gifted students their own full-time classes and teachers. Some programs help gifted children reach their potential by advancing them upgrades or accelerating their education.

If you would like to learn how The Tenney School serves children who are part of the Gifted and Talented program, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.

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